Simulations back up theory that Universe is a hologram

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A ten-dimensional theory of gravity makes the same predictions as standard quantum physics in fewer dimensions.

A team of physicists has provided some of the clearest evidence yet that our Universe could be just one big projection.

In 1997, theoretical physicist Juan Maldacena proposed1 that an audacious model of the Universe in which gravity arises from infinitesimally thin, vibrating strings could be reinterpreted in terms of well-established physics. The mathematically intricate world of strings, which exist in nine dimensions of space plus one of time, would be merely a hologram: the real action would play out in a simpler, flatter cosmos where there is no gravity.

Maldacena's idea thrilled physicists because it offered a way to put the popular but still unproven theory of strings on solid footing — and because it solved apparent inconsistencies between quantum physics and Einstein's theory of gravity. It provided physicists with a mathematical Rosetta stone, a 'duality', that allowed them to translate back and forth between the two languages, and solve problems in one model that seemed intractable in the other and vice versa (see 'Collaborative physics: String theory finds a bench mate'). But although the validity of Maldacena's ideas has pretty much been taken for granted ever since, a rigorous proof has been elusive.

Written By: Ron Cowen
continue to source article at nature.com

23 COMMENTS

  1. Theoretical physicists are my intellectual heroes. These kind of findings are so interesting to read about, and to a bonehead like me, it’s unfathomable that some people actually research and understand something like this. Beautiful.

  2. Theoretical physicists are my intellectual heroes. These kind of findings are so interesting to read about, and to a bonehead like me, it’s unfathomable that some people actually research and understand something like this. Beautiful.

  3. The holographic principle is an interesting hypothesis. It goes way beyond the stretch of my undergraduate physics to really understand it, but at least I can read the papers and get the gist of what they are saying.

    Physics is in an unusual situation where the capabilities of our theories and mathematics have vastly outstripped our engineering and technological powers to test the theories. There was a lapse of forty or so years between the conjecture of the Higgs boson and it’s experimental discovery, for example. I wonder how long it will be until we have the technology to test these theories. I wonder, are other fields of science, Chemistry, Biology in the same situation?

    • In reply to #7 by Stuart Coyle:

      Physics is in an unusual situation where the capabilities of our theories and mathematics have vastly outstripped our engineering and technological powers to test the theories.

      This is not an unusual situation. – - – Theology has been experiencing this same situation for thousands of years.

    • In reply to #11 by Quine:

      You have to understand the difference between, “is” and “can be modeled as.” Science writers, rarely do.

      I feel the same way. I don’t really understand the theory but I think I understand it enough to say that it doesn’t really claim that “the universe is a hologram”. What it says is that in this model the universe has some of the same mathematical properties as a hologram, and that a hologram is a useful metaphor to understand the theory. t seems to me the reaction here is kind of like a physicist using the expanding balloon model to explain how space expands after the Big Bang and reporting that as “physicists theorize universe is a balloon”.

      • Agreed! In the same way that I have some of the mathematical properties of a good looking intelligent man, or could be modelled as one.

        In reply to #13 by Red Dog:

        In reply to #11 by Quine:

        You have to understand the difference between, “is” and “can be modeled as.” Science writers, rarely do.

        I feel the same way. I don’t really understand the theory but I think I understand it enough to say that it doesn’t really claim that “the universe is a hologram”. Wha…

  4. Here’s a great program called ” The Hawking Paradox” that goes back to when Stephen Hawking challenged, with some very good questions and observations, the most fundamental law in physics, that bits of information are indestructible. Hawking said that when a black hole finally evaporates, the information that had been previously sucked in it was gone for good. Leonard Susskind thought long and hard about this paradox and ended up forming the holographic principal to try to deal with the problem.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XL6A5eia1X8

  5. What fascinates me about science journals is that knowing what the research papers they publish is like doesn’t give you any idea what the bits in between the papers will be like. For example, although Nature is one of the most prestigious science journals on the planet, the bits in between read like New Scientist or Scientific American.

    In fact, possibly worse in this case. Not once in this article did they mention, for those who might know what is vaguely being discussed, that they’re talking about the AdS/CFT correspondence, a version of the holographic principle. I suspected they were, but the only way I confirmed it was by reading the Wikipedia article about Maldacena and noticing it cites the same 1998 paper of his to show he came up with that correspondence. I’ve seen “popular science” use the scary abbreviation AdS/CFT several times before.

    Now I’ve checked what they’re talking about, let’s contextualise the sensationalism. The AdS/CFT correspondence, while useful if correct, is still only a mathematical conjecture, and this research verifies but one of its predictions. And even if we had a full proof of the conjecture, which states that certain physical models are equivalent, it wouldn’t mean such models describe the universe.

  6. A team of physicists has provided some of the clearest evidence yet that our Universe could be just one big projection.

    Or more likely, their study was just one big holographic projection of the universe.

    • In reply to #17 by Alan4discussion:

      A team of physicists has provided some of the clearest evidence yet that our Universe could be just one big projection.

      Or more likely, their study was just one big holographic projection of the universe.

      A universe. Not this one.

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